Anyone else get that ‘back to school’ feeling? Full-on dread coupled with a hazy memory of how to use a keyboard, as let’s face it, checking emails on holiday isn’t nearly as fun as not checking them.
Every year it’s the same feeling, which is funny considering I haven’t been to school for 20 years, give or take.
The ‘end of summer blues’ is apparently down to the shorter days changing the chemicals in our bodies, or in my case, not being face-down on a sun lounger at 11am groping around for my ice bucket of rosé.
Speaking of refreshing styles of wine, what are we meant to drink now the adverts are strongly hinting at Christmas and we’re producing less serotonin and more melatonin?
Try to relax, autumn doesn’t officially start until 23 September so we’ve a few days left, if the sun sticks around! Aperitivo-style spritzes are still sip-worthy and on the white side, keeping beachy memories alive is easy with an Albariño, one of only a few grapes that comes with an inbuilt lick of sea-spray on the lips.
Similar story for Chablis with its minimalist minerality, however you interpret that, or Muscadet Sur Lie, which actually tastes of mushed-up oyster shells, in a good way.
If, like me, you’ve been on the pink all summer, either hang on to your tutu-coloured Provence rosé or switch it with something equally dry, with a bit more fruit and oomph. Rhône subregion Tavel is known for producing brawnier, food-friendlier styles, or try rosés from elsewhere produced with merlot, malbec, pinot noir or garnacha.
There’s also saignée-method sparkling rosé to consider, a fiddly method where they make a red wine and ‘bleed off’ the juice before it turns too, well, red. The result is richer, darker and pretty darn delicious.
Lastly, let’s not cover up the barbecue and stuff it in the garage quite yet. There’s still some mileage in that metallic man-oven, even if we end up sizzling burgers under a brolly while the family huddles indoors.
Grilled meat-friendly reds like grenache, malbec, syrah, tempranillo, even chilled pinot noir or gamay should still be staples on your ‘to drink’ list, assuming you have one.
Spritz: Aprèz Spritz, England
A Mediterranean-style spritz from a Cornish wine producer? Pull the other one, or the ring pull, as it comes in a can. It’s clear that love and craft have gone into the production, from the can’s design to the bitter-sweet, herbal bubbles within.
The name isn’t a million miles from a market-leading brands, though Knightor uses a base of rosé infused with Mediterranean herbs including thyme and rosemary, for a welcome balance of bitterness.
Buy 4 cans for £14 from Knightor.
Sparkling: Everflyht Rosé de Saignée, England
Here is that ‘saignée method’ rosé I was banging on about, a corking sparkling for a special occasion.
By special occasion, I mean drinking on a whim with mates or your other half over the weekend. Bear in mind that only 1,400 were made, so this is one scarce bottle of bubbles.
It’s not exactly the cheapest, but then it is family-produced from grapes lovingly grown in a single vineyard in Ditchling, South Downs.
Buy it for £40 (with £10 delivery or free over £150), from Everflyht.
White: Mar de Frades Albariño Atlantico, Spain
This dry, peachy, salty albariño is the closest you’ll get to the rugged Galician coastline, without leaving the comfort of your bed, sofa, garden or wherever you choose to sip it.
Yes, you can always find decent-tasting cheaper versions of albariño, but they won’t be a patch on this layered and complex bottle. Only the finest grapes were used in its production, with 12% of the harvest discarded, so you know they mean business.
Buy it for £16 from Tesco.
Red: Domaine Paul Mas ‘Côté Mas’ Languedoc Rouge, France
Fire up the barbie and crack this juicy beauty open. Made by Languedoc winemaker, Jean-Claude Mas, who must be the Albus Dumbledore of the wine world. The plot thickens, as we’ve never seen them in the same room.
Jean-Claude has mastered the art of creating wines for every palate and persuasion at bewitching prices, he also has great hair.
This wine over-delivers with more black cherry notes than you can shake an elder wand at.
Buy it for £7.99 from Majestic.
Rosé: Tavel Rosé Domaine d’Arbousset, France
Disclaimer for lovers of barely-there Provence rosé, this bottle is a different beast entirely. Tavel is a subregion in the south-west of the Rhône Valley, where temperatures are high and potential alcohol is higher. See where I’m going with this?
They make darker, gutsier styles of rosé favoured by macho characters like Ernest Hemingway. Strap yourself in, this wine is turbocharged, dry, strawberry-stuffed and ripe for the barbecue.
Buy it for £12 from Tesco.
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